If the only two things you know about the artist Tracey Emin are: 1) she exhibited her bed and called it art, and 2) that she can’t draw, then you owe it to yourself to take the short trip by bus, train or car to Radley College, and see for yourself what all of the fuss is about. But be quick, the exhibition ends on the 13th.
The infamous bed is not on display, but several of her monoprints are in the naturally lit gallery space within the college.
Emin is first and foremost a maker – immersing herself in the stuff that eventually goes onto / into / around the realised vision in her head, made tangible. The interplay between what goes on in the head, and what gets produced by the hand, is not always obvious, even to the artist. What emerges onto paper, as in her monoprints, conveys the “immediacy of expression” that can leave the viewer both hooked and repelled by the outcome. Hooked because there is something impalpable in the image, while at the same time touchable, something elusive there as a result of the process she has chosen to utilise.
Emin studied for her BA in printmaking, therefore she knows about the process. That she chooses to leave marks evident from her making is similar to what Rodin did with his bronze casts. By instructing the foundry to leave the ridges in the casts, instead of having them sanded down and the seams therefore invisible, he, like Emin, wants us, the viewer, to see indications of the development of a work of art. Because making art requires much work.
Part of the work of art is knowing not only about technique, but about what came before. Emin knows how to draw.